Our last lesson left us with the details of the creation of man:
- God initiates man's ability to use his intelligence in relating to God through moral choices. In choosing right from wrong, man demonstrates several things:
- his superiority over animals;
- his ability to perceive and relate to a higher being (why do it if no God?);
- his freedom to affect his destiny.
- God instructs man concerning his environment, especially the animal kingdom.
- God leads man to the knowledge of his aloneness and need for fellowship with a like being, not possible through his rulership over the animal species.
This prepares man for God's final act of creation: woman.
21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man."
- Genesis 2:21-22
Some things to note regarding the creation of woman:
- The "sleep" of Adam and the new life that eventually proceeded after his sleep was the first preview of the death and resurrection of Jesus as well as the death and resurrection of man as a new creature. It is also a wonderful metaphor for marriage where one dies to self in order to create a new identity of the couple in marriage.
- The word "rib" is not the most accurate translation of the Hebrew word into English and fails to convey fully the idea in this action. A more accurate word is "side", and it is translated this way 20 of the 35 times it is used in the Old Testament. The point is that God did not simply remove a bone, but an entire part of man's side that included bone, flesh and blood. The idea is that God did not remove from the head or the feet to signify superiority or inferiority, but rather from the side to demonstrate the equal nature of the two genders. She was given as a helpmeet (not as a servant but rather as one suitable to help Adam). Suitable to complete him as a human being and eliminate his and her own loneliness, and suitable to partner with him in the stewardship of the creation.
- God could have formed her from the ground as well but did not because He wanted Eve to share the nature of man. However, her likeness to God was given to her by God, not taught to her by man (Genesis 1:27). Her form, her essence, her function, her psyche, were all created by God.
- God brought woman to man. His original design is for woman, one woman, to be with one man.
The family – vs. 23-25
The first social unit created (not evolved) is the family. It is such a basic, inherent unit that in any society at any point in history, when the family unit disintegrates, so does that society.
For example, the Roman Empire caved in because divorce and sexual perversion became rampant to weaken the Empire from within so that it became vulnerable from without.
The family unit is the basis for larger social structures like tribes, nations and governments. Even the church is modeled after the family and much imagery of the family is used to describe it. (Bride of Christ, brothers and sisters, etc.)
In these verses the structure and attitude that create and sustain healthy families are put forth:
The man said, "This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.
- Genesis 2:23
When Adam named the animals he knew from observation that they were "alive" but not like himself because of their form and their limitations. When God brings Eve to him he recognizes that although her form is different she is similar to him in nature and suitable for fellowship. He acknowledges not only that she is human, but in doing so acknowledges her status alongside himself as one who is in the image of God.
Just as he had "named" the animals, he now also names the one brought to him by God. He calls her "woman." The Hebrew for man was "ISH", and Hebrew for woman is "ISHA".
Woman is not a separate identity but derives her identity from man because she was formed from man and not other materials. God did not create her from nothing. He made her from the side of man. This is why men and women fit well together physically, emotionally and spiritually.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
- Genesis 2:24
In one verse the Bible provides a summary of the elements of what a family is, how it is formed and how to guarantee its health:
1. A family is made up of a man, a woman and their children. There are variations of this today: two dads and one child, single parents, children raising other children, childless couples, groups living together.
These can develop family characteristics and share the warmth of family but the original and ideal combination are a man, a woman and their children.
2. Families are formed when children leave existing families and form new ones through marriage. When this happens, a new family unit is formed and the dynamics change. The loyalty of the children change to include their spouse as the priority relationship. Parents need to "let go" at this point.
More problems in marriages are caused by children who put their parents ahead of their partners and parents who refuse to recognize the new roles of children: the male child is now head of his own home. The female child has a new priority in her marriage and family (in-laws need to recognize this).
3. In order for the marriage to work, it needs three basic ingredients:
A. Intimacy (cleave/joined to his wife).
The term cleave/joined means to be "glued to" or hang onto. The point is that marriage must produce a "closeness" between the couple not available in any other relationship or situation. In a practical sense this means that we are closer to our partners and we cherish our partners more than any other person, activity or pursuit. Marriage is a commitment to make the other person the priority over whatever else was our priority before we were married.
Look at successful marriages (where people are not just together, but where they are thankful and happy for being together) and you will see that the difference in their marriage is that their partners are their #1 priority, not work or hobbies, etc.
B. Exclusivity (one flesh)
The term "one flesh" refers to the exclusive sexual relationship found in marriage. However this idea also includes the emotional, social and spiritual bond that faithful couples experience in marriage as well. Couples are sometimes united legally and sexually but are not bonded together in any other way. In order to be fulfilled in a marital union the couple needs to make an effort to share as much of their lives as possible. Sharing religious beliefs, dreams for the future, responsibilities for others, etc. builds upon the initial sexual unity and serves to create the oneness and intimacy that all couples seek but often do not know how to produce in their marriages.
One flesh means that the couple abandons its individuality and independence and works towards interdependence (not co-dependence) in becoming a single unit made up of two individuals.
It is not specified here but the intention of God with the family is that it is to be a permanent union. This is the ideal established in the Garden and it is this ideal that Jesus refers to in Matthew 19:8 in teaching on what marriage ought to be.
Throughout history God has made provision for man's failure in this area as well as forgiveness and restoration through the gospel but the original ideal and pattern for what a marriage is and ought to be has never changed.
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
- Genesis 2:25
Finally, to close out the chapter and the episode, there is a brief glimpse into that first relationship before sin and death entered the world.
- They were both naked because the weather did not require clothing; the law did not require clothing and their consciences did not require them to wear clothing without shame either.
- It refers to them now as the man and his wife. An acknowledgement of marriage and family.
At this point someone might ask, "How did they marry?"
Original Pattern for Marriage
- Knowledge: courtship, dating and betrothal
- Man recognizes woman as one like him, honors her and accepts her place and her role along his side.
- Covenant: marriage ceremony, legal document
- Man acknowledges her before a witness (God witnesses that she belongs to him and he to her)
- Confirmation: sex, live together
- They confirm their union sexually (one flesh)
When these are done out of order, there is always trouble.
Every ancient and modern society recognizes and practices in some form or other the principle of monogamous marriage and family. There are some polygamous societies but these are always aberrations and do not usually survive.
They were not ashamed because there was no knowledge of evil in any form to cause guilt and shame, especially evil connected with sin. Their nakedness was natural and was a symbol of their open, transparent, trusting relationship.
- Summarize how God created woman and discuss its significance.
- What did Adam call this new creation and what was the significance of this?
- What is the significance of Genesis 2:24?
- Defend the statement that the family serves as the foundation of society.
- Explain how the three elements of intimacy, exclusivity and longevity provide for the success of a marriage.
- How can you use this lesson to grow spiritually and help others come into a relationship with Jesus?